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Our Review by Kevin Stout on November 25th, 2009
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: ABOUT TIME
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"...in essence, if you like to play Farmville and are looking for some more farming action on your iPhone - iFarm is your game. Plus you can't go wrong, it's free."

Developer: PlayMesh
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

iPhone Integration Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

First of all, if you haven't played Farmville on Facebook, you probably won't understand the point of this game - iFarm is obviously a Farmville clone. So click the link, check it out, and come back next week when you wake up with a virtual green thumb and a 20x20 farm. Or you can just check out this gameplay video of Farmville:

iFarm isn't exactly what a lot of us Farmville fans are looking for (that's past tense for me, I got out of the addiction a few days ago). iFarm doesn't let you access your Farmville farm, it's a completely separate game. The game is missing quite a few essential features that make Farmville great. But in essence, if you like to play Farmville and are looking for some more farming action on your iPhone - iFarm is your game. Plus you can't go wrong, it's free.

So for you stubborn readers who have never played Farmville, didn't check it out after I instructed you to, and didn't watch the video, I'll explain how these farming games work (iFarm and Farmville). For anyone else, you can skip the explanation and go to my Problems, Wishes, and Misses section.

Basically, the goal of the game is to level up, get money, and make a cool looking farm. Your farm is split up into a grid. Each block in the grid can be plowed, seeded, and harvested with a variety of produce that you buy in the shop. Also the blocks can be used to place decorations in (which have no real purpose, they just look cool). You gain access to different fruits and vegetables as you level up. Each item has a growing time, a price, experience points for planting, and an amount of money you receive for harvesting the grown crop. The growing times vary from an hour to days. Obviously the plants continue to grow when you don't have the app open, which is why the internet is required to play this game - the game accesses the internet to load your farm. So if you are an iPod Touch owner, experience is gained in two ways, plowing and planting. Harvesting doesn't give you experience, just money. After a block is harvested, you must plow the block again in order to plant in it again.

Now to what I think about iFarm, which will mostly consist of comparisons to Farmville. Let's start with what I think Playmesh got right, then move on to Problems, Misses, and Wishes.

The graphics are impressively similar to Farmville, which is what they should have strived for, considering the huge success of the game (over 67 million active users last time I checked). The music is also similar to Farmville, a calming, playful song that doesn't even get on your nerves once it starts to repeat.

The game controls are great, but only because there really isn't much of an option. The iPhone is a giant touchscreen. I found myself wishing I had a tablet PC when I played Farmville, wanting to simply touch the blocks to harvest, plow, and seed. One of the main reasons that I quit playing Farmville was that I was sick of all the clicking. Touching a touchscreen is so much easier, so much less frustrating. These farming games make better iPhone games than they do Facebook games.

Alright, let's see what's wrong.

Problems, Misses, and Wishes

As you can see above, I gave iFarm low scores on iPhone integration and Gameplay. Low on iPhone integration because of occasional crashing and certain actions come with quite the lag, which overall makes the game feel a little underdeveloped. Low on Gameplay because of the features that it's missing from Farmville (I'll get to those in the Wishes section).

Like Farmville, you can queue up actions (harvesting, seeding, and plowing). But getting that first action to take place can sometimes be a pain unless you are very zoomed in. I personally like to see my entire farm on the screen. When I'm zoomed out to this point, picking the block I want to perform an action on is kind of difficult. You have to press the block and press the same block a second time to perform an action. Many times I find myself pressing a box next to the one I intend to work with the second time. To be quite honest, my fingers are smaller than average compared to the average man - I shouldn't have this problem.

As for the lag, once you start queuing up actions, it sometimes takes a full second for the block you just pressed to become shaded (so you know it's part of the queue). This isn't quite a gameplay problem, it's just poor developing.

As for the crashing, I've played with the app for maybe two to three hours total over the course of a couple days and it has crashed between three and five times. Not enough to be called a major problem, but enough to annoy me.

The last "problem" I'm going to mention is the Playmesh points. I air-quote "problem" because it isn't so much a problem, they are simply expensive. Like many other iPhone games, you can purchase "points" to buy in-game items and money. I understand that Playmesh is looking to make their money somewhere. But I find it hard to believe that people will purchase these points, especially considering the lack of items to spend them on. There are only ten items (all decorations) that can be purchased with the Playmesh points. You can also spend the points on in-game money (that purchases decorations and seeds), but isn't that like cheating? Maybe I'm just an old-fashioned gamer.

Playmesh made some great decisions in the area of the social aspect of this game. The game has a forum that can be accessed in-game (very cool) and there's a friends list. Major miss - there's no point to having friends, in the game I mean. The only social interaction you can have with in-game friends is to send private messages. Unlike Farmville, you can't visit a friends farm and "help out" for experience points and gold. You can't even view your friends farm; why is that a problem? What's the point of decorations if no one but you can see them? I assume the motivation behind spending real money on in-game decorations in Farmville is so that people's friends can see their cool-looking farm. You can spend money on in-game decorations in iFarm, but no one will see them. Why spend real money on an virtual decoration that no one but you will ever see?

I'm simply going to list what I want out of this game. It's missing so many features from Farmville that it desperately needs to become the potential hit that it can be:
-the ability to visit friend's farms
-more achievements (trophies in iFarm, ribbons in Farmville)
-more decorations
-the ability to expand your farm
-the ability to send gifts to your friends

iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge)

iFarm by PlayMesh screenshot 1 iFarm by PlayMesh screenshot 2 iFarm by PlayMesh screenshot 3 iFarm by PlayMesh screenshot 4 iFarm by PlayMesh screenshot 5
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